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Daily Dirt 05/25/2024 05:14:38

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December 15
The Dome at America's Center,
St. Louis, MO
Sanction: Unsanctioned special events (First Gateway prelim) - $5,000
Information provided by: Robert Holman (last updated December 16, 2:47 am)
Hudson O'Neal reverses fortune, collects $5,000
First Gateway prelim
  1. Hudson O'Neal
  2. Billy Moyer
  3. Jason Welshan
  4. Bobby Pierce
  5. Brandon Sheppard
  6. Scott Bloomquist
  7. Allen Weisser
  8. Michael Kloos
  9. Casey Montague
  10. Randy Timms
  11. Billy Moyer Jr.
  12. Timothy Culp
  13. Bob Gardner
  14. Freddie Carpenter
  15. Tim Manville
  16. Kolby Vandenbergh
  17. Levi Ashby
  18. David Breazeale
  19. Austin Hubbard
  20. Rusty Schlenk
presented by
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Hudson O'Neal waves the checkered flag in victory lane at the Dome.
What won the race: Inheriting the lead when race leaders David Breazeale and Rusty Schlenk got together in turn four with four laps remaining, Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., won the first preliminary feature at The Dome at America’s Center Friday night. O’Neal held off Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and polesitter Jason Welshan of Rockford, Tenn., to claim the $5,000 winner’s prize and his seventh overall victory of 2017.
Key notes: Watch all the Gateway action live via pay-per-view at DirtonDirt.com. ... Schlenk finished 20th after leading laps 10-16. ... Austin Hubbard wen for a wild flip on the backstretch, destroying his car. Hubbard was a little shook up, but climbed from his car on his own. ... The Late Model field is split into two preliminary programs for with a pair of 20-lap, $5,000-to-win events on tap Friday; Groups A and B will run separate programs of heats, consolations and a feature. ... The top four finishers from each of Friday's preliminary features are locked into the first four rows of Saturday's $30,000-to-win event (those eight drivers will redraw for position).
On the move: Brandon Sheppard (17th to fifth) and Scott Bloomquist (18th to sixth) each improved 12 positions.
Winner's sponsors: O’Neal’s Club 29 Race Car is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil, Vermeer Midwest, Tarpy Trucking, West Side Tractor Sales and Sub-Surface of Indiana.
Car count: 94
Fast qualifier: Jason Welshan
Time: 11.477 seconds
Polesitter: Jason Welshan
Heat race winners: Jason Welshan, Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr., David Breazeale
Consolation race winners: Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
By Robert Holman
DirtonDirt.com weekend editor

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Hudson O’Neal needed a break even before the start of Friday’s first VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals preliminary feature. In the 20-lap main event, all the 17-year-old from Martinsville, Ind., needed was an opportunity. He got both.

Taking advantage when leaders David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., and Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, got together in turn three with four laps remaining, O’Neal won the first preliminary feature at The Dome at America’s Center, holding off early race leader Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and polesitter Jason Welshan of Rockford, Tenn.

O’Neal, the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series Rookie of the Year, earned $5,000 in collecting his biggest career victory and seventh triumph of the season. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., finished fourth, while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rallied from 17th to complete the top five.

“I just won at the Dome. Oh my gosh,” said the ecstatic winner in victory lane. “I can’t hardly even hold my hand steady. I just can’t thank (car owner) Todd Burns enough for everything he does for me.”

O’Neal was originally scheduled to start the feature from the 15th spot after he was docked two finishing positions in the third heat for apparently jumping a restart. But after pleading his case with race director Kelley Carlton, a review of the video reversed the penalty, reinstating O’Neal back to the runner-up spot in his heat. It meant a difference of eight starting positions in the main event for the talented son of former Lucas Oil champion Don O’Neal.

“I have to (thank) Kelley for looking at the video again … and listening to me, working with me’s the main thing,” said the younger O’Neal. “You know a lot of tracks won’t do that.”

But even with his penalty erased, it took a tough break by a pair of frontrunners in the feature’s waning laps for O’Neal to capitalize on his own reversal of fortune.

Looking to continue the momentum built during a season that included a second career UMP DIRTcar weekly crown, the fourth-starting Schlenk stalked the second-starting Moyer for nine laps before grabbing the lead on the 10th circuit and pulling away. But as he caught slower cars, Schlenk tried to work the outside line around the temporary fifth-mile oval and touched the outside barrier, cutting down his right rear tire. With Schlenk nursing the deflating tire, Breazeale slipped by for a short-lived lead.

Breazeale never officially led a lap however, as he killed his car’s engine after hitting the brakes entering turn three just after he passed Schlenk. Breazeale’s abrupt spin and stop collected the already slowing Schlenk and handed the lead to O’Neal, who had little trouble fending off Moyer by a scant .703 of a second in a three-lap dash to the finish following another late-race caution.

“I was just trying to stay calm there and make sure I hit my lines,” O’Neal said. “I was trying to look at the jumbotron every time I was in the straightaway to see if they were all over me or not. But I knew just as long as I hit my marks … I’d have a good shot at winning it. You know rolling off seventh, I knew if I could just stay down there … I never figured to win it … I just was excited to get in the top four and get locked (into Saturday’s 30-lap, $30,000-to-win feature).”

The win assures O’Neal, along with Moyer, Welshan and Pierce a guaranteed starting spot in Saturday’s main event. They will join the top four finishers from Friday’s second preliminary feature in a redraw to determine the first four rows of the weekend finale.

Welshan was oh so close to continuing a perfect weekend. The overall fast qualifier and winner of the first heat overshot turn one on the opening lap, allowing Moyer to scoot away with the lead on the outside. He’d fallen back to fourth before recovering to grab second behind O’Neal on lap 16. Moyer managed to regain second on the restart and kept Welshan at bay over the final few laps.

Preliminary notes and results:

Feature lineup

Row 1: Jason Welshan, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., David Breazeale
Row 3: Austin Hubbard, Rusty Schlenk
Row 4: Hudson O’Neal, Casey Montague
Row 5: Allen Weisser, Bobby Pierce
Row 6: Bob Gardner, Randy Timms
Row 7: Freddie Carpenter, Levi Ashby
Row 8: Michael Kloos, Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 9: Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist
Row 10: Timothy Culp, Tim Manville

Second consolation

Making his move to the front on a lap-two restart, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., pulled even with Greg Kimmons on lap two and made a pass for the lead on lap three. Bloomquist went on to win by 4.074 ahead of Tim Manville, while Kimmons slid to third. Daryn Klein climbed the backstretch wall on the opening lap and was collected by Cole Long, who had nowhere to go.

Finish (top two transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Tim Manville, Greg Kimmons, Dewayne Kiefer, Corey Ford, David Payne, Jeff Roth, Blake Parting, Shad Badder, Paso Suhre, Daryn Klein, Paul Roider, Cole Long, Billy Lambert. Scratch: Jonathan Davenport.

First consolation

Taking advantage of Luke Goedert’s decision to choose the inside lane on a lap-two restart, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rolled from third to first around the high side to grab the lead and never looked back. Sheppard outran Timothy Culp, who rallied from 14th to second. Polesitter Mike Hammerle faded to seventh.

Finish (top two transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Timothy Culp, Scott Ward, Clay Fisher, Kip Hughes, Zach McMillan, Mike Hammerle, Mike Schute, Austin Theiss, Joe Godsey, Luke Goedert, Brandon Pralle, Maria Hankins, Cole Swibold, John E. Baker, Chris Fetter.

Heat race notes

Jason Welshan of Rockford, Tenn., backed up his overall fast-time performance on Thursday with a Heat 1 victory, putting him on the pole of the first 20-lap preliminary feature. The talkative racer was, of course, very excited about his continued good fortune. “I can’t believe this,” he said. “This is just great for us, a small little race team. We’re gonna give it hell all weekend.” … Heat 2 winner Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., expressed surprise with the heavy condition of the fifth-mile oval’s surface when he rolled onto it. “I wasn’t paying attention to what (the prep crew) was doing to the track today I guess,” said Moyer, who will share the front row of the first preliminary feature with Welshan. “It’s a little more grippy (than Thursday). … Bob Gardner of East Peoria, Ill., who finished second in Heat 3 after apparent runner-up Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was penalized two spots for jumping the final restart, surmised that “95 percent of the people were shocked” to see the track surface so wet when they went out for the heats. “The track threw us for a loop,” he said. “It was two totally different racetracks (from Thursday to Friday). … Defending Gateway Dirt Nationals champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., failed to transfer in the fourth heat after experiencing a rough-and-tumble eight circuits. He went spinning through the infield off turn two on the opening lap, and on the final tour he bounced off the homestretch wall and narrowly avoided clipping a sliding car in turn two. … Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., retired from the fourth heat with a flat left-rear tire and decided to load up his Donald Bradsher-owned car for the night rather than start at the rear of a last-chance race. … Timothy Culp of Prattsville, Ark., had his frustrating weekend continue in Heat 3 when a scrape with Hudson O’Neal ripped a piece of his car’s nosepiece astray and forced him out of further action. His retirement came after he was involved an altercation during Friday night’s modified heat-race action.

Consolation lineups

(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation
Row 1: Mike Hammerle, Cole Swibold
Row 2: Chris Fetter, Luke Goedert
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Pralle
Row 4: Mike Schulte, Clay Fisher
Row 5: Zach McMillan, Kip Hughes
Row 6: Scott Ward, Maria Hankins
Row 7: Austin Theiss, Timothy Culp
Row 8: Joe Godsey, John E. Baker
Second consolation
Row 1: Corey Ford, Greg Kimmons
Row 2: Blake Martin, Jason Suhre
Row 3: Tim Manville, Scott Bloomquist
Row 4: Dewayne Kiefer, Daryn Klein
Row 5: Jeff Roth, Paul Roider
Row 6: Shad Badder, Cole Long
Row 7: Billy Lambert, Jonathan Davenport
Row 8: David Payne

Fourth heat

Rolling to a convincing victory, David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., won the fourth and final heat to set the lineup for the evening’s first preliminary feature. Breazeale won by 3.359 seconds ahead of Casey Montague. Randy Timms finished third and Kolby Vandenberg was fourth after the pair managed to get by Scott Bloomquist, who bobbled and fell to seventh after running in the top three for the first seven laps. At the start, Breazeale shot into the lead ahead of Bloomquist and Montague, with Montague taking second as Bloomquist washed up to the extreme high side. Breazeale pulled away, while Montague ran comfortably ahead of Bloomquist. A three-car scrum in turn four slowed the pace after two completed laps. Bloomquist spun out of the second spot after a tap from Montague on the opening lap, drawing a complete restart. World 100 winner Jonathan Davenport was an early retiree, finishing 11th.

Finish (top four transfer): David Breazeale, Casey Montague, Randy Timms, Kolby Vandenbergh, Greg Kimmons, Jason Suhre, Scott Bloomquist, Daryn Klein, Paul Roider, Cole Long, Jonathan Davenport.

Third heat

Muscling his way into the lead past Bob Gardner on lap four, Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., led the final four laps to win the third heat. Hudson O’Neal used a lap six restart to grab the runner-up position from Gardner, but was docked two spots at the finish for jumping the start. Gardner was credited with second while Michael Kloos finished third. O’Neal settled for fourth fourth to secure a spot in the 20-lap preliminary feature. From the pole, Gardner pulled ahead of fellow front-row starter Kip Hughes on the opening lap, dragging third-starting Moyer Jr. with him. He led until Moyer Jr. was able to get by with an inside pass in turn four at the halfway mark. Timothy Culp slowed in turn three, giving up the third spot and then spun again on lap six. Three cautions slowed the action early, including a solo spin by John E. Baker in turn one, which brought out the first yellow.

Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Bob Gardner, Michael Kloos, Hudson O’Neal, Cole Swibold, Luke Goedert, Brandon Pralle, Clay Fisher, Kip Hughes, Maria Hankins, Timothy Culp, John E. Baker.

Second heat

Turning back Rusty Schlenk, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., won the second heat from the pole. Moyer and Schlenk quickly pulled away from the rest of the field on the opening lap. Moyer repeatedly turned back the advances of Schlenk, who managed to pull even with the Hall-of-Famer in turns three and four on lap five, but couldn’t find the room to squeeze by. Bobby Pierce finished third, with Levi Ashby rounding out the feature transfers. The race was slowed by a spin in turn four involving David Payne, Dewayne Kiefer and Jeff Roth. Tim Manville and Levi Ashby got together in turn one bringing out a yellow. Billy Lambert was an early retiree, as was Shad Badder.

Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer, Rusty Schlenk, Bobby Pierce, Levi Ashby, Corey Ford, Blake Martin, Tim Manville, Dewayne Kiefer, Jeff Roth, Shad Badder, Billy Lambert, David Payne.

First heat

With a fresh track and an untested racing surface, a trio of cautions slowed the first heat early before overall fast qualifier Jason Welshan of Maryville, Tenn., could assume command. Welshan got the jump on Austin Theiss at the start and pulled away by two lengths to grab the early lead. Welshan won ahead of Austin Hubbard and Allen Weisser, with Freddie Carpenter grabbing the final transfer spot. Six cars, including that of World of Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard, were involved in a turn one pileup when second-running Scott Ward turned sideways in front of the field. Ward managed to get away unscathed. The same thing happened to Hubbard on the ensuing restart. Hubbard slowed in turn one, collecting two cars behind him. Theiss spun in turn two for another yellow. Carpenter, Mike Schulte and Chris Fetter tangled in turn three to bring out the first caution.

Finish (top four transfer): Jason Welshan, Austin Hubbard, Allen Weisser, Freddie Carpenter, Mike Hammerle, Chris Fetter, Brandon Sheppard, Minke Schulte, Zach McMillan, Scott Ward, Austin Theiss, Joe Godsey.

Pre-race notes

During Friday’s drivers’ meeting, Gateway Dirt Nationals promoter Cody Sommer addressed the reports that multiple race haulers parked across the street from the Dome were broken into overnight. He said the parking lot was under 24-hour security surveillance and more has been added. … The winners of Friday’s eight 8-lap heats will start their respective 20-lap preliminary features in a heads-up alignment. The top-four finishers in each A-main will move on to Saturday evening’s 40-lap, $30,000-to-win finale and redraw for the first eight starting spots. … The Dirt Late Model fielded increased by one, to 94 cars, with the Friday arrival of Muse, Pa.’s Bill Stile Jr., a pre-entrant who was allowed to compete despite missing Thursday’s time trials. Stile, 54, was en route from his home outside Pittsburgh when his box truck’s transmission broke at midnight Tuesday after he refueled at a truck stop in Terre Haute; he was able to get the tranny repaired late Thursday and continued on to St. Louis Friday morning. … Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., starts on a heat-race pole after timing second-fastest in his group on Thursday. He said he felt comfortable immediately on the fifth-mile oval. “Usually the smaller the racetrack, the better I like it,” he said. ..World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who is driving his family-owned No. b5 in the weekend’s action, starts sixth in his heat, giving him some work to do if he hopes to transfer to a preliminary feature. He said he’s hoping that the outside of the track is wetter than it was on Thursday night because, with the top too dry to allow much traction, the bottom lane was dominant. In addition, Sheppard said that the lower lane becomes an even better option when the inside tractor tires are pushed in, which permits drivers to dip their cars’ left-rear wheels over the inside berm.
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Friday’s heat lineups

(Eight laps; top four transfer)

Group A
First heat
Row 1: Jason Welshan, Austin Theiss
Row 2: Scott Ward, Allen Weisser
Row 3: Austin Hubbard, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Joe Godsey, Zach McMillan
Row 5: Mike Schulte, Freddie Carpenter
Row 6: Chris Fetter, Mike Hammerle
Second heat
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Rusty Schlenk
Row 2: Corey Ford, Shad Badder
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Jeff Roth
Row 4: Levi Ashby, David Payne
Row 5: Billy Lambert, Dewayne Kiefer
Row 6: Tim Manville, Blake Martin
Third heat
Row 1: Bob Gardner, Kip Hughes
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Timothy Culp
Row 3: Hudson O’Neal, Clay Fisher
Row 4: Luke Goedert, Brandon Pralle
Row 5: Michael Kloos, John E. Baker
Row 6: Cole Swibold, Maria Hankins
Fourth heat
Row 1: David Breazeale, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Casey Montague, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Daryn Klein, Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 4: Randy Timms, Jason Suhre
Row 5: Paul Roider, Greg Kimmons
Row 6: Cole Long

Thursday’s time trial results

Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Group A
Jason Welshan (29w), Rockford, Tenn., 11.477
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 11.479
Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 11.629
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 11.685
Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas, 11.719
Rusty Schlenk (CJ1), Weston, Ohio, 11.737
Kip Hughes (G0), Enid, Okla., 11.74
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 11.742
Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D., 11.754
Corey Ford (84F), Belleville, Ill., 11.775
Billy Moyer Jr. (21), Batesville, Ark., 11.802
Casey Montague (01), Trey, Ill., 11.805
Allen Weisser (61w), Peoria, Ill., 11.832
Shad Badder (173), Bates City, Mo., 11.837
Timothy Culp (C8), Prattsville, Ark., 11.866
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 11.92
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 11.925
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 11.956
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 12.004
Daryn Klein (10K), Fairview Heights, Ill., 12.049
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 12.065
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 12.08
Clay Fisher (99), Dewitt, Ark., 12.08
Kolby Vandenbergh (15), Ashland, Ill., 12.137
Joe Godsey (26R), Bentonville, Ark., 12.139
Levi Ashby (1A), Cumberland Furnance, Tenn., 12.165
Luke Goedert (44), Guttenberg, Iowa, 12.192
Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla., 12.277
Zach McMillan (14), Gladewater, Texas, 12.288
David Payne (7), Ward, Ark., 12.313
Brandon Pralle (56), Ashkum, Ill., 12.317
Jason Suhre (4), Highland, Ill., 12.337
Mike Schulte (27m), Summerfield, Ill., 12.35
Billy Lambert (9), Mount Pleasant, N.C., 12.371
Michael Kloos (6K), Trenton, Ill., 12.404
Paul Roider (23R), Columbia, Ill., 12.421
Freddy Carpenter (K0), Parkersburg, W.Va., 12.425
Dewayne Kiefer (0K), Bloomsdale, Mo., 12.444
John E. Baker (22J), French Lick, Ind., 12.488
Greg Kimmons (27K), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 12.64
Chris Fetter (15F), Troy, Mo., 12.642
Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., 12.686
Cole Swibold (98), Fairview, Ill., 12.688
Cole Long (54), Starkville, Miss., 12.778
Mike Hammerle (16), St. Charles, Mo., 12.801
Blake Martin (63), Milton, Fla., 13.002
Maria Hankins (63H), Bennett, Colo., 13.475

Friday schedule

11 a.m. - Pit doors open
1 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting and press conference
2 p.m. - Spectator doors open
3 p.m. - On-track activity for Late Models and modifieds
- Eight Late Model heat races (8 laps)
- Six modified consolation races (12 laps)
- Four Late Model consolation races (12 laps)
- Modified feature (20 laps)
- First Late Model feature (20 laps)
- Second Late Model feature (20 laps)
(Pits close one hour after final checkered flag)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Welshan, Moyer
Row 2: Moyer Jr., Breazeale
Row 3: Hubbard, Schlenk
Row 4: H. O'Neal, Montague
Row 5: Weisser, Pierce
Row 6: Gardner, Timms
Row 7: Carpenter, L. Ashby
Row 8: Kloos, Vandenbergh
Row 9: Sheppard, Bloomquist
Row 10: Culp, Manville
Editor’s note: corrects O’Neal’s starting position to seventh sted 15; adjusts starting positions of Gardner, Kloos

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